Handbags, dads’ gladrags and the cream of the region’s metal talent, Getintothis‘ Nedim Hassan checks out this year’s Bloodstock Metal 2 the Masses Merseyside Regional Final.
The Merseyside final of the Bloodstock Metal 2 the Masses competition is a genuinely unique experience. What quickly becomes apparent is that the stakes are most definitely high. The prize is an opportunity to play on the coveted New Blood stage during August’s prestigious Bloodstock Open Air festival. Bands and fans alike up their game. Artists strive to deliver on stage, but the crowd have just as strong a part to play. Their interactions with the bands, their willingness to head bang, mosh, raise their fists, dance and go wild can help to sway the judges one way or another.
It is for this reason that tonight’s crowd is a curious melting pot. Proud dads in their best Saturday night shirts, mums with handbags slung over their shoulders, nans, brothers, sisters, partners and others all willing to support their sons and daughters have flocked to EBGBS. They rub shoulders with metal heads of all persuasions to create a truly lively and, at times, slightly surreal atmosphere.
Vulture Cult are the first to take to the stage and show little signs of nerves as they launch into a satisfying set of alt rock. Earnest, passionate songs such as Steamrolling epitomise their sound and are warmly greeted by the band’s ardent supporters. Regardless of the result of the competition, this band look to be going places in the future.
Next up are Raised by Wolves who are led by the impressive Liv Johnson on vocals. Channelling the spirit of The Runaways in places, this combo produce alt rock with a pop-punk attitude. They hit their stride on songs such as I’m Alive and What Else and are bold enough to debut songs that had not been played live before.
Equinox are a joyous celebration of old school 80s metal. Combining elements of Skid Row, Bulletboys and Deep Purple, together with the contemporary feel of acts like Alter Bridge, they gather a huge crowd. The act are elevated to another level by the ridiculously talented vocalist, Daniel Moran, (a previous Metal 2 the Masses winner with Reaper) who has the audience obeying his every whim.
If the competition was based purely on artist exuberance and crowd participation then Chester’s Dead is Forever would win hands down. Their energetic brand of metalcore is greeted with wild celebrations from their supporters at the front of the crowd. Girls with illuminous rings and bangles dance energetically and jump gleefully to their ferocious sound. A drunken superfan with a beautifully groomed beard then decides to start his own one-man mosh pit and in the process irritate everyone else in the vicinity.
Antimony are the final competitors to take to the stage. Despite the fact that the crowd has thinned out, the band tear into a vicious set veering between melodic death metal and metalcore. Vocalist Gaz’s thunderous shouting soars above the twin guitar attack on songs such as Illusions, Voices and Watch the World Burn.
Guest headliners Endeavour then do an amazing job of keeping the crowd warmed up with their feel good brand of progressive metal. The Bristol mob rip through a set that combines complex, layered songs amidst shorter punchier numbers that feature precise, tight riffing.
Nonetheless, even though members of all the bands watch and party on with Endeavour, their minds are undoubtedly on the impending announcement of the winners. The competition was incredibly tight and the decision must have been difficult, but in the end Equinox are announced as worthy winners. Cue wild celebrations, emotional and proud families and friends.
Congratulations to all the bands for a night that affirmed the depth of talent from the area. For Equinox, all roads lead to Bloodstock Open Air.